It seems that we may have been taken in somewhat by
the responses to Arsenal's pleas for the Newcastle
FA Cup quarter-final kick-off to be brought forward,
which came from both the FA and the BBC yesterday.
Among other things, the FA said..
"the BBC have a contract so that they can nominate a time for the match they want to show. That could have been Sunday if they had wanted to push it, and I think that's something that should not be ignored."
and the BBC's head of publicity (sport) said
"The BBC were able to comply with the FA's request to move it from a Sunday to a Saturday. We have moved it once and while we appreciate their needs we have done quite a lot to accommodate them."
So, how much exactly have the BBC and the FA done to accommodate Arsenal's desire not to be shagged out for the vital Champs League game on Tuesday, and to be able to have Sunday as a full training day with that in mind....? How can we quantify their
Well, it transpires that UEFA have a requirement that clubs do not play matches less than 72 hours before a Champions League match. At the start of the season any club entering a UEFA competition has to sign an undertaking, backed by their domestic FA, that they will in fact participate. And included in this contract is the 72 hour thing.
So it looks like the BBC and the FA are telling porkies. They could not have
put the Arsenal match on the Sunday, at any time, even if they had wanted to. The Beeb could not have insisted on this because it would have put the Arsenal and the FA in breach of their contract with UEFA.
As it happens, a 5.35 kick-off on Saturday means a finish of
7.20 that evening. This is precisely 72 hours and 25 minutes
before kick-off in the Deportivo match. Given the possibility
of lots of injury time in the FA Cup game, or that it could get delayed for one reason or another, that 25 minutes looks like it's there out of necessity, to take up the slack.
So how much did the Beeb do us a favour?
Looks like a big fat zero to me.
Oh yeah, and while getting up to Newcastle for 5.35 might be easier for Gooners than midday, as I said yesterday, it's also been pointed out by many of you that getting back could be a nightmare. There are no scheduled trains running late enough.
Thanks to everyone who wrote in on this topic but especially
Lucas and Pete.